Scrabble tiles in a pyramid smelling out GOVERNMENT

Ready, Set, Gov!: Assessing Government Readiness for Startups

Scrabble tiles in a pyramid smelling out GOVERNMENT


Building a government sales strategy can be intimidating for those who aren’t familiar with the process, but there is an immense opportunity for those who invest the time and energy in maturing their processes and strategies to successfully target this market.

Knowing this, NightDragon has created a dedicated business unit, called NightDragon Government Services (NDGS), the mission of which is to connect government operators with leading edge technology to enable mission success. To achieve this, NDGS helps create, action and sustain highly effective government go to market (GTM) strategies, or “playbooks,” for portfolio companies.

NDGS has developed several tools and processes to create and action these strategies, but the process really begins with a baselining of a company’s readiness to sell to the government. We have created a tool called the Government GTM Readiness Assessment (GRA) to assist with this baselining. The GRA concentrates on the U.S. federal market but also yields insights that assist companies in preparing to enter the State and local or international government markets.

The GRA aims to assess companies’ status and progress in implementing the basic components of a strong government GTM strategy, which include:

The right-sized sales team with the right skills

  • Strong and strategic partner relationships, including systems integrators, distributors and resellers
  • A strong business development and strategic capture program covering the right customer targets with the right people (in-house and contract) to support it
  • Inclusion on the General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule and the correct Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs)

In addition to these components, the GRA includes and evaluates some key indicators of a company’s readiness to sell to government:

  •   How well they understand the government markets they want to sell into, including their needs and use cases, their major programs and procurement vehicles, availability of funding, the procurement decision chain and many other factors
  • How well they track, understand and leverage any requirements drivers for the adoption of their product by a government customer, e.g. audits, required controls, policy mandates, etc.
  • How realistic they are about the potential obstacles to their success in their chosen government market
  • The ability to communicate the value proposition to government buyers at all levels of the decision chain
  • Participation in existing government programs, including test beds, labs, cyber ranges, etc.
  • How well they understand/meet security and compliance requirements necessary to sell into the government (e.g. Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS), Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), etc.)
  • The readiness of other company functions such as marketing, communications and legal to support complex and multi-stakeholder-driven government sales cycles
  • Their readiness to ensure customer success and satisfaction, all the way from the contract officer to the U.S. Congress}

Companies may also need to address and/or remediate foreign influence which will impede their ability to sell to the U.S. government.

NightDragon believes companies should prioritize building on all these areas. The GRA helps illuminate areas where a company is already making progress and identifies areas of need. NDGS then helps companies determine where and how much they should invest and in what order, helps them identify top-flite resources to fill these areas of need and coaches them through the entire process.

NDGS has developed tools like the GRA to inform the creation of companies’ government GTM strategies and to give structure to the implementation of those strategies. This is especially important for companies that that are entering into the government market for the first time. For more mature companies, it can illuminate/pinpoint areas that they need to focus on, with NDGS’ help.

Companies must take a step-together approach in building capacity and sophistication to sell to the government and make the right investments first. The core components of a strong government GTM strategy are not achieved overnight, and they cannot be gold-plated. Investments must track to a well-defined addressable market and, ideally, sales pipeline. Expert guidance from NDGS helps companies avoid making the wrong investments and, more importantly, can significantly accelerate their government sales attainment, creating more value in this market sooner than they otherwise would.